Perfect Tandoori Chicken Wine Pairing


Grilled chicken and the spice and smoke of tandoori style marinade plays in perfect balance with a medium bodied, lightly oaked white wine.


Basic Tandoori Chicken

The first thing we need to think about for the perfect tandoori chicken wine pairing is what ingredients we will encounter in the dish. Breaking down those ingredients helps us determine how the flavors interact with the properties of the wine, for an enhanced dining experience.


Since we’re working with chicken, the obvious place to start is a white wine. A grilled or broiled chicken will go well with a medium white wine. The exposure to open flame will break down the meat and release more flavor as opposed to poaching or baking. For this reason, our tandoori chicken wine pairing can go with a richer white wine like chardonnay. Otherwise, a lighter wine like pinot grigio will wash out with the bolder flavor of a grilled meat.


The yogurt is fermented milk, which in our case will be goat’s milk because we will be using a Greek-style yogurt. The lactic acid byproduct of this fermentation gives the yogurt its tangy flavor, but it is not overwhelming. Interestingly enough, lactic acid is a very mild acid that is found in some wines. Greek yogurt, it turns out, makes a great marinade base with this dish because unlike a vinegar based marinade, we’re not getting unruly with the acid and we won’t be overpowering our protein with acidity.


Most basic tandoori chicken recipes will rely on chili powder, turmeric, and paprika. Since we’re going with a white wine, we will want something heavier in body to stand up to the spice. In our dish below, we will be bringing a southwest flavor to the party: chipotle powder. Chipotle is none other than dried and smoked jalapeno peppers. For our tandoori chicken wine pairing, the chipotle will bring the noise when it comes to smoky flavor. So for this reason, a wine with a little oak will help stand up to the smoke and spice.


tandori chicken wine pairing

Recipe: The Perfect Tandoori Chicken Wine Paring


chardonnayOur lively chardonnay hails from Lake County, CA, which because of its warmer climate is going to pronounce the rich flavors of the fruits. You must think we’re crazy to mix two doses of spice with Mexican and Indian flavors in one dish, and then try and sell you on a white wine, but when your mouth relaxes with the smokey/smooth flavor of the chipotle creama, you’ll agree, this the best damn tandoori chicken wine pairing trip you’ve ever been on. Its flavor city, and it all comes together in a great meal that will have you begging for more chipotle and curry creations.




Californian Tandoori Chicken Tacos with Chardonnay

With Roasted Corn and Chipotle Crema

Looking for the perfect Tandoori chicken wine pairing? Why not rethink your chicken delivery system instead? Think Tacos! Hey, the name on the bottle of this chardonnay says “Cali” so of course we’re going to bed our grilled tandoori chicken on a nice warm flour tortilla and top it with some savory sauce i.e. our special Chipotle Crema.



  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp Avacodo Oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 6-8 ounces per person, boneless/skinless chicken thighs (recommended)

Thighs are going to be the juiciest, most tender way to go for the grill. You can also try whole leg/thighs with bone-in for a more traditional approach, and de-bone when assembling the tacos. We opted for boneless because they grill up quickly in 12 minutes vs. 20 to 40 minutes with the bone-in version.

Chipotle Crema Sauce

  • ½ onion
  • Tbs chicken broth or avocado oil
  • ½ tbs chipotle powder
  • Tbs tomato paste, tomatoes or salsa, or sriracha sauce (for color)


  • 1 Ear corn
  • Cilantro
  • Red cabbage




  • Heat the spices – everything but salt – in the avocado oil over medium heat for two to three minutes.
  • Remove from heat
  • Add the remaining marinade ingredients: yogurt, lime juice, garlic, ginger
  • Marinate the chicken for at least one hour before grilling using your favorite marinating method

Chipotle Crema Sauce

  • In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add one tablespoon of chicken broth or avocado oil, heat and then sauté ½ diced onion until clear.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of chipotle power and 1 cup yogurt
  • Stir until a smooth creamy sauce
  • Add a tablespoon of something red like tomato paste, Sriracha, or salsa for color
  • Stir in until desired light pink color is acheived
  • Keep warm

 Grill the Chicken and Corn

  • Preheat the grill
  • Assemble skewers with marinated chicken and discard any leftover marinade
  • Start the corn first – it will need a few more minutes – salting if desired
  • Grill the skewers on a well-oiled grill for 12-15 minutes
  • Turn corn and skewers every 3-4 minutes until everything is cooked through

Assemble the Tacos

  • Reduce the grill’s heat to low
  • Remove the grilled corn and tandoori chicken from the grill and set aside to cool
  • Meanwhile heat flour tortillas on the grill for 30 seconds each tortilla
  • Return to your prep area and build the tacos
  • Warm flour tortilla
  • Warm chunks of southwest tandoori chicken
  • Shave the corn and add a pinch to each taco
  • Pinch of shredded red cabbage
  • Drizzle with chipotle crema – the best part!
  • Garnish with cilantro

Serve Aside

We served this alongside Spanish rice and refried beans, like a traditional Southern California style meal. To dress up the side dishes we added a few spoons of chipotle crema and salsa.


Napa California Wine Appellation

In the last article, we discussed much about California’s state-wide wine appellation. In this article, we will be discussing in great length about Napa Valley because most of America’s finest wines come from this location. Napa is similar to Bordeaux in terms of the quality of the wine produced there. Generally, Napa has a more temperate climate than Bordeaux, making the wine grapes there richer in alcohol, with more flavors. This makes adding sugar during the fermentation of the wine, absolutely unnecessary, and in fact is not allowed for wines carrying the Californian label.

napa valley appellation

Napa County vs. Napa Valley Appellations

At this point, we will like to clearly state the difference between Napa Valley appellation and Napa County appellation. It is hard to see Napa County appellation, as most of the areas in the county, falls into Napa Valley AVA, which is the most common of the appellations. In some rare instances, you might see wine that is produced from two distinct regions, with neither region contributing more than 75% of the grapes. While Napa Valley AVA can contain about 15% of out of appellation wine, it is 25% for Napa County appellation for out-of-county wine.

Allowance for Blending

Apart from Carneros appellation which falls into Sonoma and Napa counties, Napa has a warm climate similar to Piedmont in Italy. Plantings are done at 17ft above sea level. The region also has very fertile land towards the South, and gravelly well-drained soil towards the North. This means that the soil in the south can produce greater yield, though to get stronger flavor concentration, the vineyards yield needs to be reduced. (All Napa grapes are not equal). The appellations in Napa are further divided into smaller appellations, with each one being unique in its own right. Kalon vineyard is a good example.

All wines from Napa are not the same. There are so many wine makers in Napa Valley, with some doing just a few cases, with the others ambitiously reeling off millions of cases from their production facility. The size of wineries has little effect on the quality of the wine produced. At Cali, when we source Californian wines for export to India we are looking to find the best values so that we can offset the cost of import tariffs.

You can’t exactly say if there is something special about Napa’s wine. The best vineyards and wineries in Napa aren’t any better than most others. The leverage Napa has is that some of the most talented wine makers work in wineries in Napa. On the other hand, not all varieties of wine grapes thrive in Napa.

Alexander valley which shares boundaries with Napa, and produces exactly the same kind of grapes, isn’t recognized as part of Napa, due to historical reasons. Lake County, which is towards the North of Napa, produces grapes which are sometimes blended with Napa’s grapes.  Even though Napa produces better grapes than Lake County, Napa’s grapes still maintain a high quality when been blended with Lake County’s grapes so as to reduce its cost. Even at a blend of 15%, out of appellation grapes are still allowed to retain Napa Valley label. Another thing that needs to be borne in mind is that some wines perform better in certain regions than another. Pinot Noir for instance performs well in Russian Valley that lies in Sonoma County and Sonoma Coast both located in California, but it does not do well in Carneros.

Hope you found all that was shared here very insightful. Please get across to us if you have any questions.